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04-21-09, 09:12 PM #1
Twelve year old boy is not only in college already, he's double majoring and has a 3.83 GPA, no chance of ever getting laid
It's Friday at Florida International University, which means a few things for Sky Choi: physics lab, Calculus II -- and a trip to the game room.
For this 12-year-old, the youngest student ever to attend FIU, college is a long-awaited challenge and a daily adventure.
''We have fun here,'' he said as he prepared to start a work sheet on pistons, gases, and pressure with his lab partners.
Welcome to the world of Sky, who is taking a full course load of physics, calculus, and Chinese language classes at the university -- and still finds time to play pool and table tennis in the game room at the West Miami-Dade campus.
A home-schooler who has a third-degree black belt in tae kwon do and is fluent in Korean, he is dual enrolled and officially finishing high school at the end of this semester.
When he starts classes in the fall as a full-fledged college student, he'll have as many credits as a sophomore.
The Pembroke Pines preteen, who is classified as ''profoundly gifted,'' started taking classes there when he was 10.
''I felt really, really small,'' he said.
But Sky, whose given name is Sebastian Hanul Choi (his father is Korean, and his middle name means ''Sky'' in that language), says college is a good fit -- even though he has to rely on rides from adults to get to and from campus.
Middle school, he said, ``would be painful. It just wouldn't be any challenge.''
''He's really happy,'' said his mother, Dana Choi. ``It's made it so much easier because I know he's being challenged, I know he has room to grow.''
She always knew her son wasn't average.
When he was 3, he asked to leave a party so he could finish a math workbook.
Then there was the time he memorized the multiplication tables in one day.
When he was 4.
When he started fifth grade, Sky's parents pulled him out of private school, where he had already skipped a couple of grades, and home-schooled him. He took classes online, used home-school curriculum, and went to Sunshine Learning Center in Margate, which caters to home-schoolers, for some high school-level classes.
''When you have an 8-year-old begging you to go to college, you wonder: How could that be?'' his mother said.
And when Choi, an attorney with Miami's Holland & Knight law firm, learned that Sky could pursue dual enrollment with a university in Miami-Dade even though the family lived in Broward, she met with a representative from FIU and handed in Sky's test scores.
He took his first class -- Chinese language -- at 10. The next semester was Chinese and pre-calculus. He added more the following semester, and now he's taking 14 credits. His GPA is 3.83.
Before Sky took an introductory physics seminar this semester, he e-mailed this to the professors: ``It seems like I've been waiting a long time to finally get to study physics in depth. As you can imagine, it's not easy to get the necessary math courses and high school science courses when your age is in the single digits.''
SENSE OF HUMOR
''That's the one that stopped me,'' said Caroline Simpson, associate professor in the department of physics.
Simpson said Sky introduced himself like this before giving one presentation in the course: ``Hi, I'm Sky. I'm 12.''
''And the whole room just cracked up,'' Simpson said. ``That's kind of his attitude. He doesn't have any problem with it.''
His professors and classmates don't appear to have any problem with it either.
''He's actually pretty popular in our school,'' said Alex Brieto, 20, one of Sky's lab partners. ``I mean, when have you seen a 12-year-old kid in college?''
George Walker is a theoretical physicist who serves as dean of the university's graduate school and senior vice president for research development and graduate education.
He said he has seen many talented young scholars in his more than 50 years in the field.
''But I have not seen any that would exceed the promise and the interest that Sky has at this stage,'' Walker said.
Students who are profoundly gifted are known to learn at a rapid pace and understand complex ideas at an early age. They fall in the 99.9th percentile or higher on standardized and IQ tests.
The Davidson Institute for Talent Development, which serves those youths, has 1,400 ''Young Scholars'' between the ages of 5 and 18 around the country, including Sky.
Although the institute doesn't track the number of young teens or preteens in college, it estimates that approximately a quarter of the students in the Young Scholars program take college courses.
''They just have this insatiable need for constant mental stimulation,'' said Jill Adrian, the institute's director of family services. ``Which can make it tricky as a parent and an educator of these students.''
Sky plans to graduate from FIU with a bachelor of science in physics and mathematics when he's 17. In addition to the double major, he also plans to minor in astronomy. He could finish earlier, but his family isn't in any rush for Sky to leave home for graduate school. He's set on the California Institute of Technology.
For now, his college experience seems to be everything he was hoping for.
''It's a comforting experience,'' he said. ``Almost like a routine. It feels like I know the place.''
After school, Sky trains and teaches at Team Taekwondo in Doral, which his father, Byung Sam Choi, owns and operates. On Thursdays, his mom takes him to Aventura to play Go, a strategy board game.
And he devotes about two weekends a month to a charity he started called The List Kids, which supports children who are refugees from Iraq. His mom represents refugees through The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies, which aids those who are endangered because they helped the United States.
''Here he is doing something that few others are doing and he's doing it as a leader at such a young age,'' said Kirk Johnson, founder of The List Project.
Sky's age, and the difference between it and that of his fellow students at FIU, is not something that he dwells on.
''Doesn't even cross my mind,'' he said.
That's not uncommon for profoundly gifted students, said the Davidson Institute's Adrian. Often, they get along better with ''mental-age peers'' than people their own age.
Back in the game room at FIU, Sky fit in like one of the gang when he joined a pool tournament with his lab partners and then squeezed in some table tennis before Calculus II.
Student Aleks Mihailitchenko, 25, met Sky in the tournament for the first time. He thought at first that the 12-year-old was there on a field trip, but was impressed when he found out Sky's story.
''Maybe he'll cure cancer or solve the energy dilemma,'' Mihailitchenko said.
For now, Sky doesn't know what he wants to do as a physicist. He just knows the job would answer a lot of questions.
''When you learn physics, you know what's going on in the world,'' he said. ``I'm very curious about how everything works.''
04-22-09, 12:33 AM #2
Looks like the Brain just needs to hook up with Pinky and they can start working on their plans to take over the world.Are you a 3%er? If you aren't, you should be.
04-22-09, 06:02 AM #3Rookie
- Join Date
- Rep Power
Wow that's impressive. Good for him.Not an LEO. But hopefully soon
In Memory of Charles H. Spokane Police/SWAT
04-22-09, 08:11 AM #4\\` ` ` ` < ` )___/\
`` ` ` ` (3--(____)
"...but to forget your duck, of course, means you're really screwed." - Gary Larson
04-22-09, 12:11 PM #5
"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within."
Since Jan. 2009
04-22-09, 07:15 PM #6
Impressive to say the least.Calm Like A Bomb...
“A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”
04-22-09, 08:35 PM #7
That is impressive. Good for him. I'm sure he'll get laid eventually when he gets to grad school. There's a lot of smart hot chicks that would be all over him.
That being said, he does look like a slanty-eyed McLovin. <<--------------------------------and chill out all you PC babies. I'm asian."If anything worthwhile comes of this tragedy, it should be the realization by every citizen that often the only thing that stands between them and losing everything they hold dear... is the man wearing a badge." -- Ronald Reagan, in the wake of the deaths of 4 CHP troopers in the Newhall Incident, 1970
The opinions given in my posts DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only, thereby releasing my agency of any liability, or involvement in anything posted under the username "121Traffic" on O/R.
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